Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 36 > Page 47 - Flowers of the Plaster Rock

Page 47 - Flowers of the Plaster Rock

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/6/1 (265 reads)

a tantalizing record of the Canadian vio? let which was once found at Wentworth in Hants County. For many years I made pil? grimage every spring to the gypsum in search of that purple-veined white violet with a yellow eye. I have never found it; but once, when we were weaving our way a- mong the gypsum chimneys, my wife, who has a longer experience of botany than I, asked suddenly: "What bush is that?" It was a nondescript shrub about a yard tall. I groped for a name, for in spring my know? ledge of plant-names has been weakened by a winter of thinking of other things. "Can? ada honeysuckle," I replied, "...only it isn't. It has alternate leaves." I broke a branch, but, although the wood was brittle enough, the bark refused to part, and I knew that we had found leatherwood (11), a shrub common in central Canada but here un? known. Another spring I was trying to fight off a headache by scrambling over the Newport gypsum. The familiar chimneys and gullies offered me only familiar sights, budding ragwort and smooth grey poplars unfolding furry white leaves. I pushed through tan? gles of brambles, crunched over wastes of rusted cans, and then clambered up to the clean ridges of gypsum where the shrubs were budding. All morning I had not found a lady's-slipper, either the common pink ones with leafless stems (12) or the even commoner yellow, but now I saw at my feet a clump already in flower. They were very small, and the slipper was white thickly veined with purple and was pointed at the front as though by a goat's beard. Often when one meets a new plant, it is al? ready familiar, an old acquaintance known from illustrations or from dried specimens. One feels a sense of triumph but little 12. Cypri- pedium acaule Two leaved Lady's- slipper surprise. But this flower puzzled me. I had been quite sure that there were no more orchids of this genus left to be found in Nova Scotia. So I turned to the books of wider range, and these were in no doubt. This was the ram's-head lady's-slip? per (13) whose easterly range reached to central New England and southwestern Que? bec. There was something in common between these newly-found species. In central Can? ada both these and the Canadian violet seem to have had a prosperous period when they followed the retreating glaciers northward and flourished for a space on the shattered land before forest closed o- ver them. Now they survive patchily in thin soils and by open glades, in places that the forest has never mastered. Here in Nova Scotia the gypsum provides similar protection. We are quite uncertain that conditions after the glacial retreat were the same in Nova Scotia, for other things point to a succeeding period of local gla? ciers and coniferous forests, but we shall probably have to wait for a thorough study of the pollen records of our bogs before our picture of the period can be made clear. Pre-historic Times Sometimes what seems most remarkable is Incredible food! Incredible view! This outstanding restaurant offers LiVE LOBSTER from their own pound. Or you - • . 't may want to enjoy a steak or chowder on W''jhj the decl< overloolcing the Highlands and h I '-W ?"'v ' ' minute walk to historic St. Ann's St. Ann's Harbour, Cape Breton NovaScotia BOE IBO Phone (902)295-3100 We made our name in hardware. Your Friendly Pittsburgh Paint Dealer Prefinish Paneling * Margaree & Lockwood Windows Shingles * Cement Blocks * Brick Wood Stoves Lumber * Plywood * Mouldings LEVI LEBLANC LTD. MARGAREE, NOVA SCOTIA OFFICE: 235-2022 r-' Winner of the Canadian Historical Association Regional History Award for Meritorious Publications and Exceptional Contributions to Regional History Mining Photographs and Other Pictures' 1948-1968 A selection from the negative arcliives of Shedden Studios, Glace Bay. Available from: University College of Cape Breton Press, P. 0. Box 5300, Sydney, N. S. BIP 6L2 Also available in local retail outlets A co-publication of NSCAD and UCCB (47)
Cape Breton's Magazine
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